Two of the most exciting debut novelists of 2023 come together to discuss their works and influences.
Jacqueline Crooks grew up in 70s and 80s Southall, part of London’s migrant community carving out a space through music, culture and politics. Immersed in the gang underworld as a young woman, she later discovered the power of writing and music to help her look outwards and engage differently with the world – a power that has driven her ever since, from her work with charities to her short stories, which have been nominated for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize and the BBC National Short Story Award. Her much lauded first novel Fire Rush has been shortlisted for The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2023.
Santanu Bhattacharya grew up in India and studied at the University of Oxford and the National University of Singapore. He is the winner of the 2021 Mo Siewcharran Prize, Life Writing Prize and London Writers’ Awards. His works have been nominated for the 4thWrite Prize, Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award, and Pontas/JJ Bola Emerging Writers’ Prize, and have appeared in Commonwealth Writers’ adda. His debut novel One Small Voice was published in February 2023 to critical acclaim including an Observer Best Debut Novel of 2023.